How Do You Do It? Hot Chip, In Our Heads.

A resolutely good band with some irrefutably great songs, Hot Chip are an infinitely intriguing proposition. Prince nuts-cum-penmen of princely chart hits (see Over and Over, and Boy from School, and Ready for the Floor, and One Life Stand, and, latterly, Night and Day for indomitable proof) the only criticism one may feasibly level at the souf London outfit is that they've perhaps become too circumspect in their numbingly comfortable, cushioned quirk.pop outcrop. How, therefore, does fifth full-length In Our Heads weigh in?

Well, Alexis Taylor et al. are still evidently exercising the mentality of 'if it ain't broke...' as the aforesaid introductory single is propelled by the sort of thwump to have myriad miniature cymbals a-resonatin' furiously. It's not so much a statement of intent as one of protraction, arguably sounding more akin to a succession of Basement Jaxx' Rooty than of their own almost excessive successes but it's a buoyant affair seemingly engineered toward indoor aerobic exercise. A vivacious treadmill trundler or one to roll atop those inefficacious blobs to maybe, it's matched in aural aesthetic by the comparable gym monkey thrust of Flutes which, with its M.I.A.-ish vox (had Arulpragasam overdone things down in the doldrums of her local Fitness First, her vocal chords tangled and doused in lactic acid) is immediately more engaging. Lyrics of "Work that inside; outside: Work that more/ Work that right side; left side: More and more" are appositely offset – and perhaps all too familiarly for some – by Taylor's typically deadpan croons of "never again". Indeed clocking in at seven minutes it's a wonderfully exhaustive piece and even though musically it may evoke the niggling melancholia of Boy from School, the track proves instructive of a potentially more progressive approach.

Commensurately enterprising is Let Me Be Him: Joe Goddard's willowy baritone takes a prominent lead as it sublimely accents some classic R'n'B songsmithery that comes with slouchy guitars, a collectively clamourous holler of a chorus and a racy pulse as standard. If Goddard here comes into his understated yet vocally gleaming own then the dichotomy between he and Taylor remains pivotal and it's the latter who oft shines: whether it be on the pastiche daytime TV glimmer of Don't Deny Your Heart or the clumpy palpitation of opener Motion Sickness (an odd Prodigy-esque middle eight representative of a kind of ill-inserted blood clot) his boyish falsetto is immaculate. He even becomes the know-all astrologer toward which his outward image has always intimated as he rhetorically poses: "Remember when we first thought the world was round?" As prefatory gambit it's scarcely prophetic although it serves as an oration flavoured with the surrealism for which the troupe are now not only recognised but also revered.

Elsewhere, the proto-funk shimmy to How Do You Do? sees Taylor again turn didactic as he preaches: "A church is not for praying/ It's for celebrating the light that bleeds through the panes/ It's for celebrating the light that shines through the pain" over a heady 120BPM beat in sermon-like speech that's as evocative as it is enlightening. Things intermittently get gawky à la Coming on Strong on the languid soul ooze to Now There Is Nothing and the mildly mawkish, inexplicably awkward Look At Where We Are that comes across as No Strings Attached-era *NSYNC produced by Williams Bevan and, more imposingly, Blake but it's followed up by the souped-up, penetrative electropop of These Chains. More like David A. Stewart turning his hand to floor-filler this one, it's an impressive stomp that pertains to Hot Chip at their subdued, self-effacing best and although Goddard may heinously rhyme "baby" with "free" in what's an unspeakably criminal couplet, the sentiment of "These chains you bound around my heart/ Complete me" is as interesting a theory as In Our Heads is in itself.

Far more involving than the introversion insinuated within its title, this is Hot Chip at their most inviting; their most becoming and the best is saved 'til last. Always Been Your Love is perhaps their most human and with it affecting hunk of overt sentimentality; an equatorial, bossa nova-flecked slow dance that waltzes straight into the ruddiest atrium of the heart. Their unassuming disco propensities continue to scintillate in scenes predominated by the most recklessly ostentatious of pomposity and irregardless of whatever may be going on in their respective brains, that which rings in your ears stays superb.